Changes in suspension, expulsion policy on Berlin BOE agenda

Published on Sunday, 24 September 2017 22:18
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

The Board of Education will read for the second time, and possibly adopt, two policy changes, at its regular meeting tonight.

The two changes concern Policy 5144 (Student Discipline) and Policy 5113 (Attendance, Truancy and Chronic Absenteeism).

The first reading was at the Sept. 11 meeting. Two readings are required before the policy can be adopted, according to the board.

Under the proposed new discipline policy, a formal five-day notice is required, said School Superintendent David Erwin, as opposed to the current policy of simply giving notice with no clear timeline.

The new discipline policy would also change the number of hours suspended or expelled students are required to serve, Erwin said. The state is urging the school system to make alternative education part of a suspension or expulsion, but hadn’t provided any details on how to do so as of the Sept. 11 meeting.

Erwin said the district was talking to other districts to determine any cost-saving measures it can implement.

There were no expulsions in Berlin last year, he added.

Under the new chronic absenteeism policy, a Family with Service Needs report would no longer need to be completed by principals, counselors and the like, once a student reaches a point of chronic absenteeism, said Erwin. The new policy would require an intervention model.

At its last meeting, the board voted to implement a joint banking account with the school district and students in the Transition Academy, which aims to teach students life skills for employment.

The account will provide a stipend to students through a debit card, which will be kept at the school after hours, as opposed to a regular stipend.

Cindy Martin, supervisor of special education - secondary, said the new policy will provide students a greater learning experience in managing their work- study funds, and provide the district better control of the funds as well.

$8,500 is set aside for the bank accounts, the same amount as last year, Director of Pupil Personnel Services Linda Holian said.

Holian, Martin and Michelle Zeuschner, supervisor of special education from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, reported that 95 of 115 students recommended for summer school attended, with 13 teachers and 32 paraprofessionals among other staff.

Zeuschner said all high school students were grouped together, grades 7 and 8 were grouped together at the middle school, and grades 1 and 2 were grouped together at the elementary school, culminating in a successful program.

The board also adopted a new statement of core values and beliefs and a new self-study timeline for the high school as it prepares for the once-a-decade visit of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Accreditations Committee on Public Secondary Schools.

Brian Benigni, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Director of Human Resources Denise Parsons reported that the new teacher orientation program and substitute teacher social had gone well.

Director of Facilities Doug Solek updated the board on projects at McGee Middle School and Berlin High School.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the school board’s conference room, 238 Kensington Road.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Sunday, 24 September 2017 22:18. Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2017 22:21.